Friday, June 29, 2007

The Smarter Primate

Chimps, it seems, outperform adult humans in some mental tasks, like short-term memory. But our children can apparently still compete until they get too smart, like O’Reilly and Coulter. (Some folks are already proposing acknowledging rights for chimps, which will probably be helped by the chance that chimps just might have souls, too. Does that mean they’re going with us at the Rapture? That might turn out cool. . . . One last thought for your weekend—what if the Rapture’s already happened and only a couple of people got taken? Doesn’t seem unbelievable to me, at least any more unbelievable than the Rapture.)

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Weather, Water, Energy 6-29-07

Before he trots off on vacation, David Roberts cautions us to be alert to the extreme sensitivity of consumers to any policies that whack at their finances and deal with that accordingly. I agree, of course, but I’m doubtful that it will be possible to soothe their precious sensitivity, likely demagoguery or not, especially if we dither around while remediable actions are still somewhat possible because we’re being overly sensitive to consumers’ sensitivities. As we’ve noted here in posts and book reviews, the kind of scarcity and planning needed to deal with the future we’re facing does not lend itself well to democracy, as this article discusses thoroughly. Worrying about voter reaction to a hike in gasoline taxes may bring on something that doesn’t require voters at all. . . Does this make you feel better about how we’re supposed to turn to nuke power for our salvation? And that the Europeans, especially Germany, have been the best at dealing with global warming so far? . . . CARTOON OF THE WEEK over at Climate Progress. It would be funnier if it were about some other country. . . . Looks like 1998 is safe for being the warmest on record. 2007 is on track to only be the second warmest. Whew. . . . The major drought in GA is finally getting officials there to consider, maybe, perhaps, possibly developing a tentative, could-be water plan. . . . Speaking of needing to plan, an energy expert is telling KY, yes, your state can be a big coal-to-liquid producer but there are these little things you ought to look at first that could, you know, screw you up royally. . . .Looks like Shell's going to start getting more of my business. AND the guy's basically saying President Cheney's past claims about the silliness of efficiency are (surprise) just bullsh-t. . . . Good and symbolic at the same time. The gov’s mansion in CO is getting solar panels. . . . This headline sounds ominous for CA—“Study Estimates Greenhouse-Gas Law Could Cost State Economy At Least $100 Billion”—until you read the time period is 43 years. That damn liberal media. . . .

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The "Reasonable" People

will be the ones we have to blame for everything that comes down in the next several decades. Thanks again, MisterRogers.

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The Big Problem after Weather, Water, Energy

Very nice overview of the problems facing us regarding the aging populations of key nations, covering most of the coming attractions, except for the impacts of old drivers. Doesn’t really get into the impact on those oldsters (which now include me) of the weather, water, energy trilogy we harp on here, which I think can mutate into something really scary and it doesn’t point out the importance of the retired community’s refusal to support taxes to make sure the kids in school now who will have to support and care for them actually have the skills to do it. In a way, justice may prevail.

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Ad of the Week

We all have days at work that feel like this. Kudos on the placement.

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Brain vs iPod: Bob Dylan Edition

A month ago, I decided to embrace my nerddom and look into something that only I could possibly care about: how greatly do my perceptions of an album differ from the star ratings I each song of the album on my iPod? In other words, how much does the concept of an ‘album’ actually matter? A lot of albums have distinct feels and moods to them, but does that end up actually mattering when it comes to an evaluation/rating of the album itself? The album can have a really interesting feel to it, but if the songs aren’t good, what difference does that make? My guinea pig for this experiment was Wilco.

Well, now I’m moving on to the Big Dog.

I’ve always had an appreciation for Bob Dylan, but I didn’t become a full-fledged Dylan-phile until around 2001 or so. In one of my BMG “Buy 1 Get 27 Free” binges early in high school, I bought his greatest hits, but I just wasn’t ready to appreciate him yet. Well, during the height of Napster, I decided to give Blonde on Blonde a try. And that very predictably led to one of my patented ‘phases’ (like the Flaming Lips phase I went through last year...and the Funkadelic phase I seem to have entered recently).

In the summer of 2001, I discovered and purchased about 2/3 of Dylan’s albums (almost all for under $7!), bought a couple biographies, and immersed myself. So after 6+ years of Dylanology, it’s time to rank the albums...I’ll only do a Top 10 here because if I were to rank all of his albums, this would end up around 15,000 words. That, and there are still a few albums I don’t own—Empire Burlesque, Saved, and New Morning.

Anyway, here goes nothing. The following is my “Brain” ranking of the Top 10 Dylan albums.

1. Highway 61 Revisited (1965). As uncreative as this might make me sound, this is my favorite album of all-time. And I know in advance that my iPod will agree with me, as every song on here got 5 stars. Can’t beat that. Dylan was pursuing that “thin, wild mercury sound” that he had in his head, and he said he didn’t capture it until Blonde on Blonde. Well, to me he had already caught and released it. Everything about this album is perfect. Best album opener ever. Best album closer ever. A perfect combination of whimsy and apocalypse.

2. Blood on the Tracks (1975). No matter what mood I’m in, when I listen to this album, I end up sad and a little bit angry. If great art projects its mood onto you, this is as good as art gets. Songs like “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Shelter from the Storm” set the reflective mood, and then Dylan takes you through the different stages of a breakup, from Anger (“Idiot Wind”) to Gut-Wrenching Despair (“If You See Her, Say Hello”) to Acceptance (“Buckets of Rain”). This might be my second-favorite album of all-time.

3. Bringing It All Back Home (1965). I always forget about this one in the overall conversation of Dylan’s discography—Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde are always the first two ‘60s albums mentioned, Blood on the Tracks always gets mentioned as well, and his last three albums start to surface in the conversation—but that always leads to a nice “Holy crap is this a great album” moment. The album title is one of the most apt titles ever. You can see his music and all of his influences coming together to start making the ground-breaking music he had in his head. But more than that, the lyricism is at just about an all-time high. Hell, this might be third-favorite album of all-time.

4. Love and Theft (2001). When I woke up the morning of 9/11, my initial thought was, “Do I buy Dylan’s new album before class or after?” I had intentionally avoided reading any reviews or stories about Love and Theft because I wanted to be surprised by what I heard. Of course, as I was getting ready for class, I hopped on the Internet like I always do, saw what had happened, and that, shall we say, changed my day around a little bit. By mid-afternoon, though, my brain was simply fried, so I headed over to Wal Mart to pick up Love and Theft and allow it to distract me for a while. When I got back I turned off the TV and computer, sat in my room, turned out the lights, and listened. It was a nice one-hour distraction before I headed back into the living room to take in what was happening for the rest of the evening.

Normally, listening to Dylan is (for me) a pretty emotional experience; coming off of Time Out of Mind, I was expecting something similar with Love and Theft. Instead, I turned on the cd player and listened to what is probably the most fun album Dylan’s ever made. You can’t avoid smiling during “Summer Days”; “Honest With Me” is the hardest-rocking song he’s written; even songs with more downbeat subject matter, like “Cry a While” and “High Water (For Charley Patton)”, aren’t all that downbeat. I expected to enjoy Love and Theft, and I a completely different way than I thought I would.

5. Desire (1976). Certain Dylan albums are mood pieces. They're not tours de force of pure songwriting agility and mastery, but the groove and production and instrumentation are perfectly distinct, and it makes for a lovely listen. Desire is my favorite of this type of Dylan album (others I’d throw into this category are albums like Oh Mercy, Planet Waves, Slow Train Coming, Nashville Skyline—my least favorite Dylan album ever—and Time Out of Mind), though let’s face it—anything with Emmylou Harris on it gives it an unfair advantage over anything without Emmylou.

Desire does have a few perfect songs—“Hurricane” is unbelievable even though his protest might or might not have been sincere; “Isis” is intense and enchanting, though better live (check out the unbelievable Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Rolling Thunder Revue to see how perfect this song can be); and “Oh Sister” is both haunting and Emmylou-tastic. Most of the album, though, is made up of songs like “One More Cup of Coffee” and “Romance in Durango”—great examples of Dylan songs that could have only been captured with that exact lineup at that exact moment.

I should also mention that Dylan’s voice has never sounded as good as it does on Desire, though my ears might be biased because Emmylou’s harmonizing.

Have I mentioned that Emmylou is the greatest backing vocalist of all-time?

6. Blonde on Blonde (1966). While I don’t love it as much as some (I might just be penalizing it because the harmonica on "Pledging My Time" is too shrill), this album is great for four reasons: 1) “Visions of Johanna”, 2) “I Want You”, 3) that “4th Time Around” sounds like Dylan imitating “Norwegian Wood” (John Lennon had a good reason to be paranoid), and 4) that “Absolutely Sweet Marie” sounds like Dylan imitating every Beach Boys surf song. Don’t know if he actually was or not, but I enjoy it more when I think about it.

7. John Wesley Harding (1967). I was late to the party on this one, and I’m not sure why. I just kept skipping over it on my checklist. That was a mistake. When I finally purchased John Wesley Harding last year, I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. I knew I’d like “Watchtower” obviously, and I’d seen him perform “Drifter’s Escape” a couple times in concert, so I knew what to expect (more or less...his voice and the instrumentation to every ‘60s song have changed exponentially since then) from that. Otherwise I was a blank slate. But despite the famous lack of hooks or choruses on this album, there is strong emotion and melody at every turn. “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” has become one of the most played songs on my iPod.

8. Oh Mercy (1989). This one’s #2 on the “Mood Pieces” list...for today, anyway. Some other day, I might put Time Out of Mind in this slot instead. They’re both Daniel Lanois productions, and they both have the same tired (in a good way) feel to them. The difference is, while Time Out of Mind feels like a brittle, cold New York morning, Oh Mercy sounds like a stifling, hot New Orleans night. My opinion of this album might have been enhanced by his long recollection of its recording process in Chronicles, Vol. 1. Hearing him talk so fondly and vividly of it might have made me biased. It’s a damn good album either way, though.

9. The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964). Really, this album is just as unsteady as his first two (Bob Dylan and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan), but the title track is, to me, the greatest folk song ever written, so for that reason alone I think very fondly of the album as a whole. However, I have the feeling my iPod ratings won’t think quite as highly of it.

10. Modern Times (2006). Actually, no. Make that Time Out of Mind (1997). Modern Times is a lovely listen, but Time Out of Mind is more cohesive and emotional. Cohesion and emotion are usually two of the more important qualities an album can have, so I’m giving Time the nod. See #8 for further details on this one.

So that’s great. Now what does my iPod tell me I like the best?

1. Highway 61 Revisited. Five-star songs: All of them. “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Tombstone Blues”, “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”, “From a Buick 6”, “Ballad of a Thin Man”, “Queen Jane Approximately”, “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, “Desolation Row”

2. Blood on the Tracks. Five-star songs: “Tangled Up in Blue”, “Simple Twist of Fate”, “Idiot Wind”, “Meet Me in the Morning”, “If You See Her, Say Hello”, “Shelter from the Storm”, “Buckets of Rain”

3. Bringing It All Back Home. Five-star songs: “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “She Belongs to Me”, “Maggie’s Farm”, “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”, “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “Gates of Eden”, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”

4. Love and Theft. Five-star songs: “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”, “Mississippi”, “Summer Days”, “High Water (For Charley Patton)”, “Honest With Me”, “Cry a While”

5. Blonde on Blonde. Five-star songs: “Visions of Johanna”, “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)”, “I Want You”, “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”, “Just Like a Woman”, “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine)”, “Absolutely Sweet Marie”

6. Time Out of Mind. Five-star songs: “Love Sick”, “Standing in the Doorway”, “Not Dark Yet”, “Cold Irons Bound”

7. Slow Train Coming. Five-star songs: “Gotta Serve Somebody”, “I Believe in You”, “When He Returns”

8. Another Side of Bob Dylan. Five-star songs: “Chimes of Freedom”, “To Ramona”, “It Ain’t Me Babe”

9. Modern Times. Five-star songs: “Thunder on the Mountain”, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”, “Someday Baby”

10. Desire. Five-star songs: “Hurricane”, “Isis”, “Oh, Sister”

Not surprisingly, the ‘mood’ albums I mentioned don’t fare quite as well when they’re evaluated simply for their content—Desire drops from #5 in my head to #10 on my iPod, just as Oh Mercy drops from #8 to unrated.

However, I seem to have discounted Slow Train Coming, Another Side, and Modern Times. I think Slow Train has an easy explanation: it’s a bit of an uncomfortable listen. There are plenty of strong songs, and Dylan sings with conviction, but...well, it’s preachy. Everybody knows this. He suddenly went from well-known Jew to proselytizing Christian, and he seemed to be judging anybody who questioned him or his motives...and for that matter, anybody who wasn’t as faithful a Christian as he suddenly was. Knowing this in advance, I wasn’t in a hurry to buy this album or Saved, even though I’ve owned Shot of Love—the third part of the Christian-esque trilogy—for a while and enjoy it. But there’s no discounting the quality and passion of Dylan’s performance and songwriting here. If he really did ‘go Christian’ go give him something to feel strongly about, it served its purpose.

What about Another Side? Well, quite simply I think it gets lost in the shuffle between his hardcore folk albums—Freewheelin’ and Times They Are A-Changin’—and his electric conversion. How an album with “It Ain’t Me Babe”, “Chimes of Freedom”, “To Ramona” (his most underrated song), and others gets forgotten says something about either my memory or the unbelievable quality of Dylan’s discography. As for Modern Times, I get annoyed with magazines and TV shows when they rank new stuff too high on “Top __” lists, and I think I tend to overcompensate. It’s a damn good album, though it wasn’t the best album of 2006 as everybody tried to immediately anoint it.

So we’re through with two of these experiments now, and I seem to have pretty much learned what I could have guessed I would learn. Just as statistics don’t tell the whole story in sports—one’s impact on team chemistry and his ability to make teammates better doesn’t show up in the box score, just as an album with an interesting mood and groove might not rank high if the individual songs aren’t amazing—they tell a good percentage of it.

Not that this predictable conclusion won’t prevent me from writing a bunch more “Brain vs iPod”’s...

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Weather, Water, Energy 6-28-07

Desertification could end up affecting a third of the planet's population, pressuring resources and borders, according to a UN report. And some of the things we might think would help, like planting more trees, actually hurt by sucking up more scarce resources. Planning would be good here, along with some compassion, but we haven't been that great lately. . . . Drought may be letting up in Australia, just in time to give relief to farmers and ranchers and to their idiot PM, who's running for reelection. That would be about right, wouldn't it? . . . Proof that all the idiots aren't just here or in Australia. Germany has one running a major corporation. (While you're at Grist, they have several good posts up updating the latest Congressional actions which sound like semi-impressive fury but will they signify anything??? And don't miss this truly righteous rant by David Roberts at a poor, oppressed coal executive.) . . . The World Wildlife Fund is finding serious problems with these plans to dump iron particles into the oceans to cause plankton growth to suck in CO2. This stuff has "UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES" written all over it, so it's good to see someone monitoring. . . . Joseph Romm links to a definitive resource to deal with all deniers and their sympathizers like that idiot former Mrs. America contestant who writes for Slate and did an American Enterprise Institute talking points column in the WaPo the other day. . . . The most cost-effective way to max out auto emission restrictions? Go after the older cars and don't spend scarce dollars on testing the newer ones. . . . AK (Alaska, not Arkansas) is going to get hammered worse in the short run, it looks like, by the thawing and flooding from global warming. But as we've noted here regularly, you're not finding a lot of deniers there, just sane folks seeing reality and trying to deal with it because it's already their lives at stake. . . . Great. Global warming may affect ingested toxins from pollution, making them more lethal. I guess we can hope that some are made less lethal, too, right? Right? . . . Finally, I suppose this is a headline we should be happy about, but somehow it's just depressing:


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Wednesday, June 27, 2007


...I suppose I should be flattered by this.

Quickly, the rules:

Here are the rules: Eight random facts or interesting lies about yourself. Send me the link to your post when you're done. Tag 8 more people. Drop a comment on their blog to let them know they've been tagged. Don't sit by your maibox waiting for thank you notes from those you've tagged.
Eight random facts? This is suddenly reminding me of every college and work 'get to know you' exercise where I'd think and think for hours and not be able to come up with a single fact.

And now I have to come up with eight. Well...I didn't have anything specific I wanted to accomplish this evening anyway...

1. I owe alcohol for my marriage.

And in a good way.

I met The Butterfly at an MBA Happy Hour. It was being held at a nice local eatery/drinkery, and I knew the manager. He called me 30 minutes before Happy Hour began, told me to wake up my roommate (a fellow MBA'er), and get down there because they had...wait for it...DAY FRESH BUDWEISER! That's right, Budweiser with a born-on date of that very day. Oh baby. So I wake him up, head down there, drink day-fresh Budweiser (which tastes the exact same as 20-day Budweiser, 40-day Budweiser, 120-day Budweiser, and likely 1,000-day Budweiser), and schmooze. My roommate called me over to meet this girl from Oklahoma. Being that I too am from Oklahoma (and she was completely and totally resisting his advances), I must have just a ton in common with her, right?

Right. And 25 months later, we were getting married. At a winery, no less.

(The Butterfly is compelling me to mention that she was a Designated Driver that night. She doesn't want you to get the wrong idea.)

2. I bought The Butterfly all 5 seasons of Smallville for our 2-year wedding anniversary. She bought me a watch. We both got exactly what we wanted.

(And I secretly enjoy the show. Wait...I guess I haven't kept that secret very well, have I...)

Oh, and I bought her all 6 Star Wars DVDs for her birthday...and she loved it. It's safe to say I probably married the right girl.

3. I really want an iPhone. And I really don't need one.

4. In college, I drove 2,000 miles roundtrip in a weekend for a basketball game, then got a B+ on a test Monday morning. (I got a C on the following test, coming off a weekend when I didn't drive to Albuquerque.)

Third gear in my truck went out about 300 miles into the trip. You should try driving to Albuquerque (uphill all the way) without third gear sometimes. You haven't lived.

5. I've seen Willie Nelson in concert three times.

6. I think One Crazy Summer is John Cusack's best movie. Okay, that's a lie. High Fidelity and Say Anything both have it beat...along with like 17 other movies.

But I do think that Rio Bravo is the best John Wayne movie, for whatever that's worth.

7. I accidentally shaved a diagonal bald spot into my head before heading to OK for an ex-girlfriend's wedding. You know...wouldn't want her to see me looking all good and stuff and start regretting her decision or anything...

8. In my one trip to Vegas, I ate a 3x3 Animal Style with Animal Style fries at In-N-Out Burger twice in back-to-back days.

I should also mention that I weigh less than 200 pounds...though I'm a lot closer than I'd like to be...

And now...the lucky tagged...apologies in advance go to the following (and I'm only choosing six because I don't think enough people like this blog to hate me for tagging them and still visit again someday):

Erik Loomis
Michael Atchison AND Trip McClatchy

And finally...
Hear No Evil
Berlin Niebuhr

Heh heh heh...

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My Weather, Water and Energy

The weather here has been terrible. Yesterday we received 4 inches of rain in just 45 minutes. Somehow, that produced a 16-inch buildup of water against my back door (I have a garden unit). And the door couldn't take it, spilling that water right into my place. Every single room. Every single corner. Luckily I didn't loose too much - that I can see. The hard wood floors, they tell me, might be in pretty bad shape. And since the insurance doesn't cover flood, I'd call that signaficant damage (to both the floor and my bank account). Ugh...

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Weather, Water, Energy 6-27-07

A UN official is pointing to the extreme weather in Europe, Asia, and Africa so far this year (see here, here, here, here, and here, for examples yesterday) as evidence that nations need to be preparing more seriously for more such events as the warming and its effects on weather increase. This will, of course, be seen as needless scare talk by the moderate idiots who will be written up next to the Bushnevs/Cheneyovs, idiot Australian PMs, and the Chinese as the folks responsible for the many failures of civilization to face what was directly in front of it. Yes, it’s scary, but the scariest part is our unwillingness to deal with reality. That’s never been a particularly successful plan in human history. . . . This can’t be good news. Japan and China arguing over drilling rights in the East China Sea. Energy and mineral wars. Water wars. Econ development wars. Hmm, maybe it is better to stick your head in the sand. . . . Could be that one method of carbon sequestration might also free up some methane for fuel. Wait, isn’t methane one of our problems? . . . Get your “voodoo” green marketing right here. . . . In our “Daily David Roberts at Grist,” we have notes of a survey of Americans’ “well educated and thought” choices for dealing with global warming (surprise, regulate corporations, don’t screw with our cars), Christie Whitman’s continued and evil self-rationalization for her actions at EPA after 9/11, and a link to James Howard Kuntsler’s latest apocalyptic rant, which is always worth the price of admission. . . . Waste Management Inc. is convinced it can turn the gases coming off its landfills into useable power for hundreds of thousands of folks. If the precedent gets set, other companies might fall in line and we could hit a daily double with more energy and better use of our garbage. . . . Finally, very important article in the Christian Science Monitor on the growing investment potential of water, its use and delivery, and the ethics of profiting off something essential to human life. Not that it will likely matter if we're actually fighting over it, but it's good to know people are giving it thought.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rahm nails it for once

I’m far from a Rahm Emanuel fan, but I can’t think of a better response to the “Cheney = Fourth Branch of Gov’t” issue than this (via C&L):

O.K., says Emanuel.

If Cheney's a member of the legislative branch, the Democratic Caucus chair suggests, the vice president won't need all the money that currently goes to pay for his executive office, extensive staff and that secure undisclosed location that is so often his haunt. So Emanuel plans this week to offer an amendment to a spending bill that would defund the Office of the Vice President.

Of course, there would still be funding for the Office of the Senate President. But, let's be frank, the rare tie-breaking duties and ceremonial administrative functions associated with that position won't require more than a smidgen of the money that now goes to the vice president's epic executive-branch operations.

"This amendment will ensure that the vice president's funding is consistent with his legal arguments," say Emanuel, a former aide to President Clinton who, like Cheney, has served in both the legislative and executive branches.
This is absolutely, positively the perfect way to handle this. The Dems are in charge of the legislative branch (well, the House at least...the Connecticut for Lieberman Party controls the Senate), and we should see a lot more now. Be careful, Rahm (and other top Dems) start doing this kind of thing, and I might just come to expect it.

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Tuesday Pirates Rant™ - Okay, a small one…

I just didn’t have the motivation to do a rant this morning, but that was before I saw this:

The Pirates have improved at the basics since last season, general manager Dave Littlefield said, but there remains work to do.

"I think it's better," he said yesterday of the team's fundamental play, which has been a central -- and largely negative -- issue of late. "When I look at our bunting, frankly, it's a lot better. And there are other areas. But, when you go through a period of losing a few in a row and some games get away, those are the things that get highlighted."
Right...when you lose games because your catcher misses every ball on a play at the plate, or because you miss the cutoff man, or because your cutoff man is in the wrong spot, or because you don’t score from second on a double...those are the things that get highlighted. Crazy, isn’t it? It’s amazing how the press will bring those things up when you’re losing.

But hey...they sure can bunt though! A perfect skill to have when you can’t get on base. And never mind that the team can’t score, can’t play defense, has two good starting pitchers, has one good reliever, has a revolving door of craptastic relievers filtering between AAA and Pittsburgh...bunting, which is about #63 on the “Desired Skills” list, is totally taken care of. Woohoo.

He really is veering into Bushnev/Baghdad Bob territory now...up is down, black is white, and everything is going just swimmingly.

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Hell Is Freezing

Something is beneath even Barbara Walters. (But even she sounds amazed. Not beneath Larry King, though.)

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Weather, Water, Energy 6-26-07

Uh-oh. Russia’s already throwing down on, claiming 1.2 m. sq. kilometers (now, are those bigger or smaller than the miles smart people use?) opening up in the Arctic. We talk about the impact of global warming in a lot of ways, but this burgeoning battle over the resources of the Arctic may be the sleeper in the group in terms of impact, at least in the short term. King Cheney and his minions aren’t going to like this. Bushnev won’t either, once they tell him what to “think”. . . . This just gets more bizarre, so it’s likely to happen. One of the major claims against pulling gasoline from the Canadian coal sands is the enormous amount of power it takes to do so. Most people would say, well, with other options available and the dangers posed by this, including the enormous amount of water, let’s try something else. Not those hearty Canadians. They’re going to use nuclear power, which uses enormous amounts of water and has those useful terrorist byproducts as well, to provide the power. You couldn’t sell a book or movie with a plot like this. . . . Lack of nuke waste storage sites, though, may keep CA from being equally lunatic in the near future as it slows consideration of new nuke plants. . . . Global warming-->drought in SW US-->dust blown north-->cover over snowpack in mountains-->earlier annual snow melt-->more unpredictability of fresh water availability. Isn’t nature wonderful? . . . France is joining Britain in calling for caps on greenhouse gas emissions from airlines. The US will block it all, of course, but at least some nations are trying. . . . Meanwhile, a major global investment bank has issued its recs on the best companies to invest in in a warming future. None American, of course. Go get rich. . . . Our daily check-in with David Roberts at Grist finds a good post on Obama’s ultimately pointless fence-straddling on coal (when coal is what we need to be running from, not finding excuses for) and a nice explanation of what goes on in debate over auctioning v. giving away of credits in a cap-and-trade system (guess which option the corporations that have been screwing up the environment want? And guess which one will win—answer at bottom of his post.) . . . Worried that the rush to turn corn into gas will starve people? Well, turns out we can make cookies from the ethanol production byproducts. And their fiber-full!! Problem solved, right? Right? . . . TX and MA both getting fed grants to develop wind power and to compete for basic dominance in wind tech. Hard to believe TX could lose. As we used to say in OK, no matter what direction you left TX, you were going into the wind. Because TX s-cks. . . . While looking at grants to states, WI, TN, and CA have businesses that have nailed down major Dept of Energy funding to start up bioenergy research centers. And think of the cookies they can make, too!! (Looks like MI is getting some of that ethanol-based grant-funding, too.) . . . No discipline has better resembled the clueless but very self-impressed academics in Gulliver’s Travels than economists. Their dirty secret for decades has been the deliberate lack of attention to actual empirical data and the observable world. Michael Tobis at Only In It for the Gold has found a heretic in the cathedral there and alerts us to her work and responses to it. Similar to a recent Nation piece and to this current Scientific American column talking about using MRIs to understand how people really think, not just how the very small pool of people strange enough to become economists think. Who knows? Maybe economists will join the real world, start trying to actually get things right about economies, and pull their ignorant noses out of areas like climate change, criminal justice, education, health care, et al., until they actually get their own house in order. . . nah. . . . One last note. Global warming helps poison ivy. Lets send some to Inhov and all his other deniers.

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Eat More Potato Salad

Helps your immune system. Really.

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I didn't post a Rant™ last week because I was driving to Oklahoma and trying to avoid getting hit by lightning. This week I was getting ready to prepare a fresh Rant™ but just didn't have the energy. So instead I'll just post this from Pat of Where's Van Slyke, who writes a lot more about this sorry team than I do:

No podcast this week because, well, it's just not worth it. I'd just be rehashing things I've already said and I don't really have any urge to do that. Here's the thing; the Pirates are a bad baseball team. Very bad, in fact. Their lineup is bad, their rotation is bad beyond Gorzelanny and Snell, and their bullpen is awful. Their minor league system is bereft of talent besides Walker and McCutchen. Things are so bad down there that we view Brian Bixler as a major talent. The front office lacks any kind of vision whatsoever. They drafted a relief pitcher with the fourth pick in the draft. It's just very hard for me to put any sort of brainpower into the Pirates when things seem so cut and dried right now.
Pretty much says it all. Please fire Dave Littlefield so I can go back to caring and ranting. Pretty please.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

All the Proof You'll Ever Need

. . . of how completely and irrevocably unserious and screwed we are. Endorsed, of course, by Oprah. Twice.

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